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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1999

Co. and Monongahela Power Co. - in anticipation of the Oct. 5, 1999 through Jan. 3, 2000, period in which companies can file their transition plans.

The contractor will evaluate each company's transition plan, providing a final analysis that will include a determination of generation asset value. Case No. 99-863-EL-UNC, July 28, 1999 (Ohio P.U.C.).

Power Marketer Licensing. With the start of competition coming as early as Oct. 1 for some customers and no order in the competitive electricity provider certification docket, the Delaware PSC authorized its executive director to issue provisional certificates to applicants until Dec. 31, 1999. Included in the order are the applicant requirements that will guide the executive director's approvals. Applicants must demonstrate financial, technical, managerial and operational ability, among other things. Docket No. 49, July 13, 1999 (Del.P.S.C.).

Retail Electric Suppliers. The Maine PUC continued to set new rules in preparation for the start of electric competition, set for March 1, 2000.

- Supplier/Utility Contracts. It adopted standard form contracts (with a few utility-specific exceptions) to govern the relationship between transmission and distribution utilities and competitive retail providers (other than standard offer service provided to default customers not electing a new supplier). Docket No. 99-170, July 19, 1999 (Me.P.U.C.).

- Standard Offer Service. It also issued requests for bids to allow the PUC to select which suppliers will offer firm electricity service to standard offer customers. Unlike other states, Maine's standard offer prices will be set by the bid process rather than by statute or regulation. See

Environmental Disclosures. The New Jersey board on July 26 adopted an environmental disclosure label to allow consumers to compare fuel mix and emissions characteristics of the electricity offered for sale by suppliers in the newly deregulated market.

All suppliers must disclose their fuel mix and air emissions as compared to the state's benchmarks, as well as energy efficiency, not only in all direct marketing material to solicit customers, but also in semi-annual mailings to all retail customers.

Restructuring Cost Passthroughs. While conceding that small customers would bear a "wildly disproportionate" share of costs, the California PUC nevertheless approved a proposal by the state's electric utilities to use an "equal percentage of marginal cost method" to allocate restructuring implementation costs among customer classes, since state laws required it to avoid any cost-shifting among customer groups.

Ratepayer groups had sought an "equal cents per kilowatt-hour" method, arguing that the EPMC model would have industrial and large commercial users paying much less for restructuring than warranted by their 95 percent share of all direct-access purchased power. A.98-07-006 et al., D. 99-06-058, June 10, 1999 (Cal.P.U.C.).

Utility Billing Systems. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. asked for rehearing of a June order by the California PUC that its billing system was incapable of handling unbundling of electric utility costs and services under the state's direct access plan. The PUC had said that PG&E's failure to meet billing system timetables "may affect the evolution of competitive energy markets and the ability of customers to understand energy alternatives." A.96-12-009 et al., D. 99-06-056, June 10,